Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pit bull owners get final notice

Pit bull owners get final notice
Mon, June 12, 2006
They're told to register their dogs by June 30.
After that, 'hardline' enforcement is planned.

The City of London is warning nearly 300 pit bull owners that they have till the end of the month to register their dogs.

Jay Stanford, the city's manager of environmental services, estimates there could be about 290 unlicensed pit bulls in London, based the number of owners who haven't renewed their dog licences from last year.

A bylaw passed last fall requires all pit bulls in London to be licensed.

On May 30, the city issued its fifth and final notice to pit bull owners to have their dogs licensed, demanding full compliance by June 30.

Stanford described the enforcement approach as "balanced" as opposed to "hardline," especially given the uncertainty created by a court challenge of a provincial law banning the breed.

"If a situation requires a hardline approach, it will be implemented immediately," he said.

The issue of dangerous dogs was thrust into the spotlight last month when a 77-year-old Middlesex County man was fatally mauled by his unlicensed pit bull crossbreed.

John Martin's wife and a taxi driver witnessed the attack in the driveway of Martin's home in Welburn, south of St. Marys.

The dog is in quarantine but is expected to be euthanized.

The city has issued 685 licences to pit bulls owners since the province passed legislation last year banning the breed.

When the province amended the Dog Owners' Liability Act, the city followed up with a supporting bylaw.

Existing pit bulls were grandfathered under the law.

The laws require owners to have their pit bulls sterilized and microchipped. The dogs must be leashed and muzzled in public. The licensing fee is $50 plus an application fee of $10.

Bylaw infractions carry fines ranging from $200 to $500. Violations of the Dog Owners' Liability Act carry fines up to $10,000, six months in jail, or both.

Some pit bull owners may have moved or shipped their dogs outside the city or province, Stanford said.

"Some people don't believe they have a pit bull . . . so there's potential for denial," he said.

Some pit bull owners may be awaiting the outcome of the court challenge of the Ontario ban before spending the estimated $200 to $300 to sterilize and microchip their dogs, Stanford said.
"And there are people out there who are just taking the chance of not getting caught," he said.
The law bans pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers and any dog "that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those dogs."

The province imposed the ban after a number of vicious attacks by pit bulls on people and pets.
This year, London police have laid eight charges under the Dog Owners' Liability Act, compared with two last year and one in 2004.

Police have responded to 56 pit bull related occurrences this year, compared to 29 last year and 22 in 2004.


Anonymous deDesertKnight said...

I have a "rescued' Pit Bull and he is the greatest dog I could ever have! Before him we had 4 cats,which we still have and he protects us all I can't say enough how much I love my Pit Bull!

5:30 PM  

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